To Know and Be Known
Today's FMF post is being written on Saturday because Friday I hosted my book club, which is so much more than just a book club and half the time not even a book club at all. Today's prompt is KNOW (which I love since it goes along with my KNOW-HEAL-GROW theme!)
These are a group of ladies I have KNOWN since our children were just preschools. Some of them I met at my local MOPS group in the 1990’s. When I moved to my little town in 1997 with a toddler and a 4 month old baby, the first thing I did was look for a chapter of MOPS to get connected with.
Later in life when our kids were in elementary and middle school, this group of friends formed through various connections. We all knew each other and formed a book club as a way to make sure we were connecting regularly.
We have done life together, we have prayed with eachother through medical emergencies, loss, and difficult times and hardship
We have celebrated with each others personal acheivements, the graduations of all of our children, some children’s marriages and even some new babies.
We have had fun by occassionally going to concerts and events together.
These ladies know and accept me despite my insecurities and they encourage my gifts. I believe we accept and encourage each other.
This is the beauty of community.
When I work with clients, I always assess for protective factors in their life and relational support is at the top of the list.
Also, loneliness is one of the factors that make the stressors of life more difficult to bare. We need people who KNOW us. We need people we KNOW will be there in a middle of the night crisis or in an emergency or just to grab coffee when we need to process something or connect.
Long term friends that do life together is a wonderful gift but that is not always an option, particulary if you move or even go through a major life event that affect friendships. But friendships can be and should be cultivated at any stage of life.
I'm reminded of the old song I learned at Girl Scouts years ago“Make new Friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other is gold.”
It’s so true. As I’ve aged, I’ved developed new interests and new friendships can be developed from those new interests. Adding new friends throughout your life is like adding beautiful layers and interestiing texture to the tapestry of your life.
When I work with people who are stuggling with loneliness I often explore some of the following ideas with them for making connections.
-Look for support groups in an area that you feel alone in. I found MOPS because I felf isolated being a new mom. But there are support groups for caregivers, for singles, for people suffering from different chronic illnesses. For people experiencing grief.
-If you are new to an area, many communities have a newcomers group. Check with your local Chamber of Commerce
-Join a place of worship and get involved.
-Look for clubs designed around hobbies such as garden club, photography club
-Look for teams being created around sports or exercise, you can find these at your local gym or YMCA or even local sporting good stores might have info
-Are you passionate about your community? Volunteer opportunities are great ways to meet people. You can get involved with various political or social causes.
-Your library may be a great place to find info on various clubs including book clubs.
-Take a fun class offered through a local communty college or park district.
-If you play an instrument, look for opportunities to play with community bands or orchestras
It’s possible to start your own club, talk to your place of worship or local community center about offering something. Putting the word out on social media is a great way to develop interest.
It should be noted that having suggestions is often just half the difficulty.
Struggling with anxiety or depression or even just shyness can make it hard to reach out. Where you fall between introversion and extroversion can also impact your ability to form new friendships. If you find it hard to do any of the above, I would like to suggest that counseling could help. It might help you discover your own personal roadblocks to making connections, and counseling by it’s very nature is supportive and nurturing. Having that experience of talking to someone who cares, and enourages in a compassionate, curious and non judgemental way may give the courage to reach out to others beyond the counseling sessions.
Good friendships can take a while to develop, but they can be very benificial even in the early stages. With the friends I’ve had for decades, I remember early on knowing that they’d be there in a pinch if I needed a babysitter, or support. And I tried to give that back as well. Remember that good friendships need to be nurtured in order to last. But the investment you pour into your relationship can’t be measured in terms of the blessings you get in return. To KNOW and be KNOWN and to be accepted, encouraged, challenged by others is by far one of the greatest gifts we could ever give and receive, and quite frankly, it’s exactly what we were made for.
This post is created in part for the FMF writing community. A community of writers that spend 5 minutes writing on a weekly prompt.
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